Want Employees to Return to the Office? Eight Steps You’ll Need to Take
If you’re planning a return-to-office mandate, it may not be easy to get everyone on board.
COMPANIES ARE CONTINUING to mandate a return to the office — including, controversially, Zoom itself — and many employees are not happy about this push. For many employees, the work-from-home policy they enjoyed during the pandemic gave them the much-needed ability to balance their work and personal lives, and many found they were more productive at home than in the office. These benefits they hoped would continue into the future, so companies calling employees back to the office are naturally receiving some pushback.
To help get employees on board, company leaders will need to reconsider old policies and procedures and update their offices to suit the needs of employees today. Here, the leaders of Rolling Stone Culture Council outline these steps and discuss the importance of turning unhappy employees into happy ones.
Ditch the Old ‘Office’ Environment
People do not want to be isolated or trapped in a box anymore. It is the “old” office space mentality that doesn’t resonate in our new reality. Office environments must evolve into centers, providing enhanced productivity and fostering collaboration among peers. Sensory experiential design and architecture play a pivotal role in achieving this transformation. – Gen Cleary, Sound Connective
Communicate a Convincing ‘Why’
The truth is that a company is not a product or an executive team — it is the people. It is critical that the value of why the return to work would be good for the people is actually convincing and communicated. Mandating is not enough, and good talent will leave. If there is no truly valuable reason for your people to return to work, you should rethink mandating entirely. – Wayne Mackey, Aimlabs
Find a Middle Ground
Since people are used to working at home, companies that need their employees to be physically present could shift their office to feel more comfy and almost like a home. Offering remote or hybrid positions that allow people to work from home for part of the business week could be a great middle ground as well. – Christian Anderson (Trust’N), Lost Boy Entertainment LLC
Offer That Same Flexibility Through Other Policies
It is a combination of policies that could allow for a smoother transition back to the office. First, investigate why this might be an issue and then offer a solution for that issue, leaving no room for excuses. Offer shorter hours per day and flexibility on those hours depending on the role. Make all PTO and sick days floating to ensure that employees can juggle their health and work duties. – Kice Akkawi, Treblemonsters
Make Space for Open Conversations
As a remote-first company, my agency has always recognized the value of remote work and employee autonomy. If in-person work is truly necessary for your business, it’s essential that all employees understand — and agree — with the reasoning. Make space for open conversations and be willing to make changes to the office environment based on what your team members want and need. – Evan Nison, NisonCo
Increase Pay or Provide More Balance
Many professionals have enjoyed the work-from-home routine for the past few years. There are two options to solve the debate: Up their pay (money talks) or introduce a hybrid work model. As a CEO, I am a big fan of the hybrid model — two days in the office and a few days working from home. Professionals want balance, so we need to give it to them. Happier employees means better productivity. – Paul Fitzgerald, Salt & Pepper Media Inc.
Opt for a Four-Day Workweek
We offered a four-day workweek and it worked. Instead of eight hours a day with a one hour lunch, we came in one hour earlier and left one hour later. We also let them choose which day they wanted off, as not everyone wanted the Friday off. The added bonus was that this saved everyone two hours a day commuting! – Susan Johnston, New Media Film Festival®
Keep a Culture of Connection Alive
It’s a complex topic, especially for interns and junior team members new to the workforce. A clear organizational vision is critical to alignment, and keeping a culture of connection alive through regular gatherings and activities is crucial. Recognize and empower junior members so they feel included. Ultimately, choose what suits your business best, whether that’s an in-person, remote or hybrid model. – Anthony Coppers, GRADIENT